My big, fat Greek olive-making tradition harvest predicted to be bad for 2006, so here is how to make them yourself.
By Sophia Markoulakis,
I was weaned on my Greek grandmother’s olives. Her basement was olive central, and the acrid smell of her enterprise permeated the walls, leaving a mark in my memory and in the cavernous room that stores remnants of her legacy.
Tart, cracked green takistes olives, split with a brick, were placed in buckets of water to leach out the bitterness. Gallons of plump and fleshy purple royal olives, slit, soaked and flavored with heavy doses of vinegar and garlic, were also prepared here.
Missionaries introduced the first olive tree to California via Mexico during the late 1700s and named it ‘Mission.’ One hundred years later, other varieties, such as the ‘Manzanillo,’ ‘Sevillano’ and ‘Ascolano,’ were brought to California and have become the state’s most popular table olive varieties.
According to the California Olive Industry’s Web site, 70 to 80 percent of the ripe olives consumed in the United States come from California. But recent reports suggest that California is prime for an olive oil boom while the table olive industry is suffering from bad weather, overseas competition, decreased packing facilities and the olive fly, which is attracted to the table olive’s large fruit. An article Sept. 14 in the Los Angeles Times reported that the 2006 olive harvest is projected to be the worst the industry has seen in 25 years, and the consumer is likely to feel its effects.
So what’s an olive lover to do?